Microsoft have announced a new version of Skype made especially for broadcasters.
The service is called Skype TX and it adds an extra hardware/software layer on top of the Skype platform, allowing the popular web-chat software to “seamlessly integrate into any production,” the company claims.
The software allows for easy switching between multiple callers, while the automatic correction of aspect-ratio mismatches and the removal of system pop ups and notification sounds should be enough to make any broadcaster confident to use the service live on air. The hardware part also allows individual video feeds to be output to HD-SDI – The standard digital video interface used in today’s HD broadcast applications.
Skype TX appears have been built using technology taken from UK broadcasting services company Cat and Mouse, which was acquired by Microsoft earlier this year. The company developed a piece of software called CatCall, which integrates with Skype to streamline how video calls are used in broadcasts. The software has been widely used in the UK on popular programs such as Embarrassing Bodies Live and Britain’s Got Talent.
Even though Skype has lost much ground in recent years to both direct competitors like Google Hangouts, and social media video messaging services like Vine and Instagram Video. Skype has positioned itself closely with major broadcasters over the years, and that has worked well for the company as they continue to gain exposure from news organizations like AOL and the BBC every time they use Skype to facilitate their interviews. Skype has also been known to sponsor entertainment programs such as the Jimmy Kimmel Show when they use their software, providing significant exposure for the brand.
Microsoft have not revealed pricing details yet, but with companies like Blackmagic Designs offering SDI output cards for less than $200, most broadcasters will expect competitive pricing from the company. Microsoft also makes no mention about whether the new service will do anything to help prevent freezing video and audio; which is common on Skype, even on a fast connection.